Letter: Please do not take away students’ choices

Posted 4/17/21

To the editor:

As an educational researcher, I truly believe that the de-leveling offers less options for all students. However, I especially worry about the academically fragile students, …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Letter: Please do not take away students’ choices

Posted

To the editor:

As an educational researcher, I truly believe that the de-leveling offers less options for all students. However, I especially worry about the academically fragile students, especially those from low-income families and those future first-generation college students, who are the most vulnerable group in the public education system. For them, the public resources are almost the only things they can get for their education. When the options at school are cut, their choices for their future lives are literally cut.

More importantly, the technique of Honor Designation will actually put them in a much more disadvantaged position. When these young adults need to worry about  their meals, they are very likely to sacrifice the luxury of designing their own projects and working on extra articles. Furthermore, even if they would like to do so (usually by sacrificing their sleep time), different from their peers with Drs. and Professors parents at home, there are very limited assets for them to draw on. That means, even if the teachers in school can really equally assign their time and energy to help every student, they have already been disadvantaged.

The influence from family and parenting on a child's development is not a secret. It tells us that an academically fragile student usually is not born as “academically fragile.” Instead, for many of them the fragility comes from the very limited resources they have received compared to their peers from different backgrounds. And the technique of Honor Designation, in essence, makes the variation of the resources they own much more sharper than it should be.

As an experienced teacher, I agree that the idea of self-designed projects and/or working on extra articles itself is great. I’ve used them in my own classes too. And I strongly support teachers to use these as alternative ways of traditional assessment methods in ANY level of any classes. However, the point is, to use it does NOT need to de-level classes. Another similar thing is the adoption of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL itself is an excellent concept. No matter in which level classes, we should encourage teachers to use UDL. However, again, to use it does NOT need to de-level classes. If we allow students to choose the levels based on their interests and future plans, rather than only by teacher recommendation or grades, the leveling classes may bring a much more diverse student group which needs more UDL.

De-leveling is such a high-stakes decision for students from low-income families and future first-generation college students that put them at higher risk. Without considering the risk carefully, there is no way to gain equity or justice. Please do not just consider them as a small part of an inclusive class to enrich the inclusive experiences of their peers with privileged backgrounds. They need the most help from public education. Please empower these kids, enrich their experience in class as well. Please do not take their choices and options away.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jane Ji

Barrington

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.